Cameras

Samsung NX1000 Review

The Samsung NX1000 has speed, but it falls short of the competition in certain places.

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Introduction

The Samsung NX1000 is an entry-level mirrorless camera that combines a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor, a 3-inch high-resolution LCD, 8 frames per second shooting, and a slew of high-end features into a compact, moderately priced body. Don't worry—we're about to chop those specs up into bite-sized pieces, so don't try to swallow it all at once.

The NX1000 also features full 1080/30p video shooting, optical image stabilization, and a maximum ISO sensitivity of 12800. Clearly, the specs sound great, but we need to see if this camera's performance can take the heat from our image quality tests.This Samsung is available now in both white and black styles, kitted with the standard 18-55mm lens, for an MSRP of $699.99.

Design & Usability

The NX1000 is perfect for intermediate users.

The Samsung NX1000's design falls precisely in line with what we've seen from the rest of the 2012 NX series: clean lines, rounded corners, flat top and bottom plate, and a small protruding grip. The plastic body leaves something to be desired and the textured grips are fall short of plush. A four-way directional pad is a great help, and the physical mode dial handles nicely too, but many buttons on the back of the camera are recessed into the body, making them difficult to utilize. A rear monitor on the NX1000 is a high-resolution (921k) TFT-LCD display, but it's not bright enough in bright sunshine, and this hurts handling considerably, seeing as there is no alternate viewfinder.

The design may feel somewhat familiar to point-and-shoot users and inhibiting to experienced users.

The NX1000 has a fairly intuitive main menu system with a very well-done quick menu alternative, though the lack of in-camera help may prove challenging for beginners. The design may feel somewhat familiar to point-and-shoot users and inhibiting to experienced users, but for those in the middle of the spectrum, the NX1000 is a great camera to grow with.

Features

Hardware and creative controls

The Samsung NX1000 is a great option for intermediate users. Shooting modes are fairly diverse. Using a 221 segment metering system, the "SMART 2.0" automatic mode automatically adjusts to capture the best picture in a given scene. This system is utilized in most of the camera's modes (all except automatic). A physical mode dial is home to program auto, priority modes, manual modes, wi-fi, and more.

WiFi connectivity makes uploading photos to a computer much easier.

This compact camera fits some quality hardware too, boasting WiFi connectivity, an interchangeable lens mount, and a large 20.3-megapixel APS-C image sensor. A 20-50mm, f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is slightly truncated compared with the 18-55mm lenses on most entry-level DSLRs, but it handles fairly well. Meanwhile, the big sensor lends speed and reliable low light performance, and the WiFi connectivity makes uploading photos to a computer much easier. Next to hardware, a slew of creative controls will keep users occupied too. For color, the picture wizards permit adjustments to color, saturation, sharpness, and contrast, and in-camera editing and scene modes make up the rest. Full HD video shooting is available too, with continuous autofocus, stereo audio, and manual control, but its performance is sub-par. The NX1000's ISO range reaches from 100-12800, with an adjustable automatic ISO that maxes at ISO 3200.

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Performance

Sunny days can be great for photos, but a glaring LCD and a white balance that struggles in natural light make things a little less joyous for NX1000 owners.

The Samsung NX1000 shot decent quality images, with excellent sharpness and decent low light ability. Performance was great in the majority of our tests, and most especially in terms of dynamic range and noise handling. The only catch is that though noise levels were low, it came at the price of fine detail at higher ISOs. Some cameras offer various settings for noise reduction, like low, medium and high, but not in this case. This software is either on, or it's off.

The biggest weakness is color accuracy, but if you don't mind vibrant images, then these inaccuracies won't bother you.

The camera's strongest performance area was that of sharpness. However, to achieve this sharpness, sometimes in-camera JPEGs are cooked substantially, causing quite a bit of haloing, which visually pollutes the image. The biggest weakness is color accuracy, but if you don't mind vibrant images, then these inaccuracies won't bother you. Oddly, whereas most cameras excel in natural daylight settings, the NX1000's white balance faltered. Luckily, customizable white balance will aid this shortcoming.

Conclusion

The Samsung NX1000 packs plenty of quality into a compact body, but other cameras do too.

The Samsung NX1000 is the entry level model in the Korean giant's interchangeable lens model lineup. Sporting the same image sensor as the higher end NX200 and NX20, the NX1000 offers much of what the higher end models do, but at a kit price of just $699.99.

In testing we found the NX1000 produced very good sharpness, solid dynamic range, and solid image quality right up to ISO 3200. It also managed to capture shots at up to 8 frames per second, though the buffer is more limited than it was on the higher end NX series cameras. The NX1000 did struggle in some key areas though, namely in color accuracy and white balance. We found the custom white balance was acceptable, but the automatic white balance system was inconsistent and slightly off in many of our sample shots. These can be overcome by shooting RAW images, but that will also bog down the system, degrading performance considerably.

The NX1000 is worth a look, but there are slightly better values to be had.

Samsung has billed the NX1000 as a smart, connected camera. We found WiFi connectivity only occasionally useful though, and we were substantially more impressed by the sheer amount of features that Samsung gleaned from the high-end NX20 while keeping the price under $1000. The NX1000 offers a lot for the price—but so do many of the cameras in this part of the market. Undeniably, the NX1000's combination of size, speed, low light performance, sharpness, and dependable navigation make for a compelling offer, but ultimately, we feel that cameras like the Sony NEX-F3 offer more for less money. The NX1000 is worth a look, but there are slightly better values to be had.

Science Introduction

The Samsung NX1000 did well in dynamic range and noise tests. It also rendered very sharp images, but in-camera JPEGs fall prey to software, so there's quite a bit of haloing too. The weakest areas were color accuracy and white balance.

Sharpness & Dynamic Range

Edges were crisp in shots with the NX1000, but some haloing occurred too. Dynamic range was on par with its APS-C brethren in this part of the price spectrum, though it falls off at high ISO speeds.

Paired with the 20-50mm, f/3.5-5.6 lens, the Samsung NX1000 did well in our sharpness tests. The camera had solid performance in the center of the frame, with the edges showing some falloff. It did oversharpen its shots, however, with the default JPEGs showing as much as a 20% increase in contrast due to haloing around these areas.

We found that the Samsung NX1000 was capable of 7.88 EV of dynamic range at the minimum ISO speed, with our cutoff being a signal-to-noise ratio of 10:1. (Most other sites, and the ISO standard, report dynamic range down to a SNR of 1:1, which is significantly lower quality, but yields more stops). This put it right in line with its competition in the category, with the performance predictably falling off from there. Dynamic range stayed above 3.49 stops all the way to ISO 6400, and then it fell off precipitously to less than two high quality stops as noise began to dominate the image.

Color & White Balance

The Samsung NX1000 didn't wow us with particularly accurate colors, producing more vibrant, less accurate images in most color modes, and white balance struggled considerably at times.

The Samsung NX1000 utilizes various color profiles called "Picture Wizard" styles. These can be turned off entirely, or tuned to some common modes such as standard, landscape, and portrait. We found that the most accurate mode was the "standard" picture wizard (including turning it off entirely), which had an average delta-C (color error) of 2.92. Typically, we like to see DSLRs post color errors closer to 2 than 3, but the Samsung NX1000's performance isn't impacted too severely by the lack of accuracy. One thing we did note was the general oversaturation of all the picture wizard styles. While not as bad as some manufacturers, most of the styles produced images that were over 105% saturation, with vivid going up to 120% of the ideal. The standard mode rang in at around 106%, while turning picture wizard off resulted in a saturation level of roughly 97%.

In testing the NX1000's automatic white balance, we found that it did poorly under daylight and compact white fluorescent lighting conditions, with an average temperature error of roughly 500 kelvin for both. Under tungsten lighting, it performed about the same (roughly 500 kelvin off), but this is substantially better than most cameras normally do. Shooting under real life conditions outside the lab we found that the camera did okay under an overcast sky, but it did produce a slight color tint sometimes, and skin tones required some adjustments here and there too. The custom white balance settings performed much better overall, with an average color temperature error of between 127 and 165 kelvin for all three lighting conditions (daylight, compact white fluorescent, and tungsten). That's not perfect, but it'd be difficult to see color shifts that small in most conditions and you wouldn't see much of a difference in most shots when capturing a custom white balance.

Noise

The Samsung NX1000 keeps noise to a bare minimum, though it does so by applying a heavy level of noise reduction.

The NX1000 has two noise reduction settings: off and on. Simple enough, though the reality is a little more complex, as both tend to reduce noise at higher ISO speeds when shooting JPEGs. The off setting was usually more than enough in our testing, keeping noise under 1% all the way to ISO 3200. From there it rose to 1.4% and then 2.5% at ISO 6400 and 12800, respectively.

Turning noise reduction on yielded slightly different results, producing practically identical results (within .01% of our test results with noise reduction on). The main differences came at the top of the chain at ISO 6400 and 12800, where the noise reduction feature kept noise to just 1% and 1.33%, respectively. 1.33% noise at the maximum ISO is very good on paper, but it does come with some trade-offs. Most noticeable, very fine detail is largely taken out of the image, especially in more complex scenes where the camera's noise reduction system can't differentiate between noise and detail.

Other Tests

The Samsung NX1000 features full HD video shooting with continuous autofocus, stereo audio, and manual control.

The NX1000 reproduced motion quite well from our test rig. There was very little trailing, though there was some ghosting and artifacting present in the image.

We found that bright light sharpness was somewhat limited with the NX1000, as the camera had difficulty downsampling the 20-megapixel signal and producing much beyond 500 LW/PH of sharpness. Vertical sharpness was also limited, as only around 425 LW/PH was visible in our test footage. Low light sharpness was also quite poor, with a dropoff of about 25 LW/PH in either direction. The major difference was just in the appearance of contrast given the lower light level, though. In truth, the camera struggled in both lighting conditions, making it hard for us to recommend it over a dedicated video camera.

The Samsung NX1000 needed 19 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. We call this the camera's low light sensitivity because that is the minimum amount of light needed to create a video image that passes broadcast television's brightness requirements. Compared to your average consumer camcorder, this sensitivity score from the NX1000 isn't very good, but it's workable. Part of the reason for the NX1000's sub-par showing in this test stems from the camera's f/3.5 kit lens. A faster lens with a wider aperture should give the NX1000 a boost in low light video.

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